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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It was an out of this world experience for hundreds of students Wednesday in Coral Gables.

“This is Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, how do you hear me.”

“Coral Gables we have you loud and clear.”

A live link with astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel, floating in the International Space Station, was established and streamed on NASA TV.

The students then got to ask the former science teachers turned astronauts about how their experiments on Earth help them in space.

“Really an honor to be able to talk to them,” said Junior Alejandro Perez, one of just 10 students picked to beam his question to the astronauts. “I’m here on Earth basically talking to them and they’re all the in space, orbitiing, they’ve been up there for a month.”

Just imagine how cool it was for Yiset Abreu, who wanted to ask something a bit more personal.

“What food from home do you miss the most,” she asked.

“Uh, I miss pizza from home,” Fuestal answered.

“I was really excited but it was also nerve-wracking to know but it’s definitely a once in lifetime opportunity, it was just amazing,” said Abreu.

It was all part of “Growing Beyond Earth,” a project with students from schools around Miami-Dade County who are doing research and experiments to determine which edible plants can grow on the space station.

The latest round of testing involves dwarf tomato plants, students are literally involved in helping figure out which real Earthly foods can feed the astronauts.

“That’s the magic of this project, it is real, NASA does not know the answer to these questions and students are finding these answers for the very first time,” said Carl Lewis, Director of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens.

By Rielle Creighton

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